St. John Catering: 6 months after the storms

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From destruction comes opportunity, and for us at St. John Catering & Mathayom Private Chefs, we have certainly borne witness to this truth. Having experienced both the destructive forces of the 2017 hurricane season on St. John as well as the new growth and rebuilding efforts on island that came as a result, we are proud to share our progress with you.

In September 2017 we lost our Windy Level Event Space in Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm which along with Hurricane Maria ravaged the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In the months since we’ve been working hard to rebuild under the guidance of Owner/Head Chef Mathayom Vacharat operating first briefly through the Little Olive Food Truck in Cruz Bay before moving to our new permanent home at Lucky Chops in the former Fish Trap restaurant (scheduled to open in Spring 2018).

Our new space at Lucky Chops has afforded us a new home with larger kitchen and storage facilities, plus a newly renovated space for events right in the heart of Cruz Bay. We have indoor and covered outdoor seating, as well as a private, 800 square foot, air-conditioned bar, where we can host upwards of 100 guests.  We will be serving fast-casual Asian inspired appetizers and small plates, and the vibe will be relaxed and spacious.

The new location will also serve as home base for St. John Catering and Mathayom Private Chefs. The kitchen is up and running, which means we are now ready, willing and 100% able to handle any catering or private chef needs for the 2018 season and beyond. Our prices will remain unchanged for this season, and we plan to revise our catering menus over the summer.

So please keep us in mind for all your catering needs from intimate in-villa dinners to extravagant beach weddings, and as the new culinary destination coming soon to Cruz Bay. We are here to serve the community of St. John and the Virgin Islands, and are extremely grateful to still be doing so.

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Transformation is underway at Raintree Court in Cruz Bay!

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The St. John Catering team is busy completing the process of renovating the former Fish Trap restaurant, which permanently closed its doors after the hurricane season in 2017.  We wish former proprietors Aaron and Lisa all the best in their future endeavors, and thank the entire Willis family for the opportunity to continue serving the community of St. John.

We are extremely excited to announce that our newest venture, the Lucky Chops lounge, will be opening soon in this space. With a welcoming, relaxed island feel right in the heart of Cruz Bay, Lucky Chops will feature an expansive covered outdoor seating area and an 800 square foot enclosed air-conditioned bar.

In addition to the bar menu which includes Chef Mathayom’s island-famous home-brewed Kombucha, cocktails, and cold beer; the small plates menu will showcase Asian-inspired dishes with a focus on being fresh, fast, frugal, and family-friendly – somewhere between regular bar fare, fine dining, and the currently-trending fast-casual service.

While the renovations are being finished at Lucky Chops, the kitchen is already open for our St. John Catering clients. Chef Mathayom Vacharat and his team are already hard at work with weddings, private dinners and charity events on St John, St Thomas and beyond.

Last month’s “Hit Makers and Rum Chasers” benefit in Nashville was a great success and brought in over $50,000 in much-needed donations to the Virgin Islands schools and children’s organizations, and we were grateful to be a part of it.

As we focus on our new venture, we will be ending our partnership with the Little Olive food truck at the end of February so that we can plan a grand opening for Lucky Chops sometime in March 2018. But keep your eye out on Little Olive’s specials board, you might get a taste of what’s to come as we test out recipes for Lucky Chops!

Stay tuned to the St. John Catering blog and Facebook page for more updates and information on our progress, and thanks to everyone who has supported us throughout the years.

 

Fish Trap gets new life with St. John Catering

We are excited to announce that Mathayom Private Chefs and St. John Catering is taking over the restaurant formerly known as the Fish Trap in Cruz Bay.

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The move represents a huge move forward for us after losing our previous space, Windy Level, in Hurricane Irma last September. Since then the team, under Chef/Owner Mathayom Vacharat, has been working hard to rebuild taking over the Little Olive Food Truck in December and the Fish Trap starting in 2018. We have also continued to provide the best in catering and private chef services across St. John and the Virgin Islands and are now taking reservations for the 2018 season.

As for our new space at the former Fish Trap restaurant owner Mathayom says, “We are going to make some big changes and hope to have our new space up and operating by mid-February,” so stay tuned for the grand unveiling in 2018. “And a big thank you to all the friends, family, and clients who have helped us get back on track so quickly; we look forward to serving the community once again.”

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Hit Makers & Rum Chasers: A hurricane relief concert for the children of the USVI

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Hello Nashville! Mark your calendars for January 30 because St. John Catering and Mathayom Private Chefs are coming to town for the Hit Makers & Rum Chasers hurricane relief concert. We are excited to be working on this event with the Charley Foundation, a non-profit organization in Nashville dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in need. Our own Mathayom Vacharat will be the guest chef at this night of food and music to benefit the children of the US Virgin Islands whose lives were adversely affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September 2017. We are forever grateful to organizations like the Charley Foundation for their continued support of St. John’s recovery, and we look forward to being a part of the Hit Makers & Rum Chasers hurricane relief concert.

Event information

  • Date & Time: Tuesday, January 30, 2018; 6:30pm dinner, 7:30pm concert
  • Location: City Winery Nashville
  • Ticket sales: charleyfoundation.org ($125 dinner & cocktails; $50 general admission)

Little Olive, our temporary home after the storms

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Owner Mathayom Vacharat leaning out the back of the Little Olive Food Truck, a new venture for his business St. John Catering. Inset picture shows Windy Level Event Space, his old establishment that was leveled by Hurricane Irma in September.

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is over, but it will not soon be forgotten. It transformed St. John and the Virgin Islands as one of the most destructive seasons in the Greater Antilles with damages estimated to be in the billions across the Caribbean. The storms changed both the physical landscape of the region as well as the lives of everyone who has come to live on or love these tiny, emerald islands.

With a resilient island spirit, St. Johnians would not wallow but rather rallied and days after Hurricane Irma struck reconstruction efforts were already underway. However, we’ve found that rebuilding after the storms hasn’t simply been about recreating things exactly as they were before because St. John will never be exactly as it was before. Instead we’ve had to adapt to unexpected opportunities and changes that arose in the wake of the hurricanes.

One of the most exciting opportunities we’ve had is to temporarily take over the Little Olive Food Truck in Cruz Bay (DMV parking lot). With Chef Shelly McElligott making breakfast and lunch daily we’re able to continue producing delicious food reflective of our dedication to rich flavors and the utilization of changing local ingredients.

Open weekdays from 11-5. Follow our Facebook page for daily menu specials and any changes to normal operating hours.

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August 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Crucian Collaboration #1

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When I went to St. Croix for their annual Taste of St. Croix this year, http://tasteofstcroix.com/ I was once again taken aback by the level of talent that the chefs there have on the regular, as well as the relationships that they cultivate with the local farmers. The agriculture community on Twin Cities is very in touch with the culinary world, and the final result is a food scene that is mature and robust.

While we do have our maintain our own garden next to the kitchen, have an organic farm in Coral Bay, and work with local fishing charters for product, the variety of locally sourced ingredients on St. Croix simply eclipses what we have on St. John.

As I was sitting at breakfast with other guest judges and one of the main organizers and producers of the event, Jane Watkins, and was expressing my jealousy of the chefs on our sister island having such abundant access to locally grown produce, she suggested that I try to find a way to collaborate with some of the passionate restaurateurs and chefs there. So I took her suggestion.

It has taken some time to organize, but this month, we welcomed our first guest chef of what we hope is many. Ryan Bennett is a former co-worker of one of our chefs, Vince Alterio, from back in their Chicago days, and has the culinary background to stand up with the best of them, including time working in some premier restaurants in Chicago, such as Gather and Graham Elliot before moving to St. Croix.

He is currently at Brew STX, an establishment not necessarily known for fine dining, but Ryan designed a menu that was both eclectic and familiar at the same time. We joined forces with Paul Kessock at Bellows International to pair a trio of Rose’s with the courses.

August’s menu was 90-95% locally-sourced and featured Caribbean-inspired flavors.  Here’s what our guests had to look forward to:

Sofrito Shellfish Consommé: Butter Sauce Conch / Avocado Puree / Salt Fish Lavash / Pickled Green Papaya / Fresh Racao

Pairing: Miraval Rose’

Roast Goat Roti: Crispy Roti /Tender Goat / Sweet Potato Puree & Chip / Mint / Turmeric / Coconut Rice

Pairing: Montes Cherub Rose’

Fruit: Mango ice cream / Pineapple Johnny Cake / Coconut Crunch / Lemongrass Gastrique / Basil / Crispy Plantain

Pairing: Josh Cellars Rose’

In addition, Chef Ryan and Chef Vince treated our patrons to some “one-bite” amuse bouche style plates.  This was the first time I got to attend as a guest, and although I won’t divulge what those one-bites were, I can tell you they were delicious!  OK, I may have had some wine and can’t remember properly at this time, so instead I will distract you with pictures of food.

The soup course was meticulously plated prior to being dropped in front of the customers.  The broth was a concoction of Thai Basil Tea and Habanera Peppers, and was poured table side from French presses after the bowls were set down.

Chef Ryan sourced out locally made roti shells on St. Croix, and chose to plate with braised local goat, sweet potato (two ways: chip and puree), mint, turmeric, and coconut rice.  All of the guests completed decimated their plates.

 

“Fruit” dessert: As promised, a combination of tropical flavors that seemed to explode on the plate, as well as on the palate.

We look forward to welcoming Chef Frank Robinson, a St. Croix native, in November for the second in our Collaboration Series.

Special thanks to St. John Inn for housing our guest chefs and providing a special rate for anyone wishing to stay the night and attend one of our dinners.  Check them out here: http://www.stjohninn.com/?gclid=CKO144bo8NUCFUxahgod9ckDAA

September’s dinner will be around the Harvest Moon and feature foods from the Great Midwest.  Friday, September 8th, so call us to reserve early!  340-777-5464.

 

 

July 2017 Full Moon Dinner – Thai One On

Sorry for the late post!  We have been working very hard in what is the busiest July I can remember, which is great, of course, but also comes at a cost: less time for the beach, friends, music, exercise, and obviously, blog posts.

We did still have time enough to throw together a Full Moon Dinner, and it was our most popular ever, with 70 guests.  Since I had just gone to Thailand and Vietnam to visit some family and had brought back authentic spices and ingredients, it seemed fitting to share that with our guests, especially since there are no real Thai or Vietnamese restaurants in the Virgin Islands, at least that I know of.  To keep the experience even more authentic, and to make it (a little) easier on ourselves, we decided to make the dinner family-style, since most meals in Thailand and Vietnam are served this way.  I guess that’s why I always want my girlfriend to split entrees with me when we go out.  I like variety.

Courses came out one after the other, and since we were in the kitchen getting things out in a hurry, I completely forgot to take any pictures of anything.  So, to fill whatever visual cravings you might have, I am going to post some pictures from my trip instead.  The trip inspired me to connect with more of my roots and family, and was an opportunity to show my son another side of the world.

We paired up with Southern Glazer’s and brought in a few different Sierra Nevada Beers as well as some Suntory Whiskey for the event.

Here is the menu we designed for July 10th, 2017:

In addition to the Curry Trio (Massaman, Panang, and Green), Green Papaya Salad with fresh, local Papaya, Spicy Beef Salad, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Fish Cakes, Son-in-Law Eggs, Sticky Rice, Jasmine Rice, and Teas, we also had some some Bun (Rice Noodles), Tom Ka Soup, and array of sauces and pickled vegetables.  We also finished with a Thai Iced Tea Popsicle.

All of the food was born of the idea that we wanted to treat folks to an experience as close to what they would get in Southeast Asia as possible.  The extremely hot weather certainly helped us achieve our goal!

Here are some of the places, faces, and flavors that helped this idea come to fruition…

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‘Pon de River!

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The mountains above Chiang Mai

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Chatuchak Market

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Reclining Buddha

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Heart to the sky

 

Our journey to us first to Bangkok, where my son and I met up with many members of our family.  It was his first time meeting my father’s side, since we live so far away.  From there, we headed to Chiang Mai to spend some time connecting with even more family (28 members in all made it to this part of the visit).

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Lyric, Hua, and Nick enjoying lunch

 

A quick few days in Vietnam took us from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi to Halong Bay, and back to Ho Chi Minh.

With markets all over the place, it was hard to resist filling our suitcases with fantastic flavors.  We definitely did not bring back any fresh fruits or vegetables, as per the USDA regulations.  Wouldn’t want to risk losing our Global Entry statuses, after all.

 

Throughout, it was an amazing trip filled with new experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  Dreaming about going back as soon as possible and spending even more time there.

I hope that our guests enjoyed the evening and got the feeling that they were transported to another locale for just a few hours.

August’s Full Moon Dinner was another amazing time.  Stay tuned for the next update, soon come.